Soccer Improves Fitness and Attenuates Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Hypertensive Men

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Abstract

Introduction

The present study investigated the fitness and health effects of medium-term soccer training for untrained hypertensive middle-age men.

Methods

Thirty-three untrained males (31–54 yr) with mild-to-moderate hypertension were randomized 2:1 to a soccer training group (STG, two 1-h sessions per week, n = 22, 68% on medication) and a doctor advice group receiving traditional physician-guided recommendations on cardiovascular risk factor modification (DAG, n = 11, 73% on medication). Two-way repeated-measures ANOVA time–group statistics was applied.

Results

During soccer training, average HR was 155 ± 9 bpm or 85% ± 7% HRmax. In STG, systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased (P < 0.01) over 6 months from 151 ± 10 to 139 ± 10 mm Hg and from 92 ± 7 to 84 ± 6 mm Hg, respectively, with smaller (P < 0.05) decreases in DAG (from 153 ± 8 to 145 ± 8 mm Hg and from 96 ± 6 to 93 ± 6 mm Hg, respectively). In STG, V˙O2max increased (P < 0.01) from 32.6 ± 4.9 to 35.4 ± 6.6 mL·min−1·kg−1 and relative V˙O2 during cycling at 100 W was lowered (P < 0.05) from 55% ± 7% to 50% ± 8% V˙O2max over 6 months, with no changes in DAG. In STG, resting HR was lowered by 8 ± 11 bpm (P < 0.05), and the augmentation index (a measure of arterial stiffness) was lowered (P < 0.05) by 7.3 ± 14.0 over 6 months, with no change in DAG.

Conclusions

Six months of soccer training improved aerobic fitness, reduced blood pressure, and resulted in an array of other favorable effects on cardiovascular risk profile for untrained middle-age hypertensive men. Soccer training, therefore, may be a better nonpharmacological treatment for hypertensive men than traditional physician-guided advice.

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